Gerard Henderson misunderstood the significance of the YCW in his recent biography of BA Santamaria, argues Bruce Duncan in a review published on Inside Story.
According to Duncan:
Henderson says that it “focused on individuals, especially the task of bringing lapsed Catholic workers back to the Church.” The YCW, he goes on, was “all very theoretical, time-consuming and timid. Not the kind of involvement to excite Santamaria.” But Cardijn’s vision was far more robust than that. The YCW was for young people, many of whom left school early. At work, they could form small groups to discuss social issues and how to engage with those issues in the light of their Gospel discussions. They then determined on action.
Because Cardijn highlighted the crucial need for practical action, the YCW trained young people to engage in civil issues on their own initiative. It was anti-communist, of course, but it kept apart from party politics, and its leaders resisted efforts by Santamaria to conscript its members into his Movement.
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